31 December 2020

Perspective on 2020

Well, to hear everyone else talk, the entire universe is anxious for 2020 to be over, and people are already celebrating today as much as tomorrow.  

Not me.  I think it's disingenuous to write off an entire year as terrible, because first of all, if you can do that, it means that you made it through the year.  Secondly, I don't want to live my life focusing on only what comes next.  If you only live in the future, you miss the good in the present.

(Also - remember people who kept saying "Oh my God, I can't wait for 2019 to be over - bring on 2020!  Well, watch what you wish for.)

In the overarching sense of time and this past year, of course it was tough.   And heartbreaking.  And frustrating.  And in so many ways, not good at all.  I don't know anyone who wanted the Covid-19 pandemic to happen, or who wants it to continue.  I'm not talking about that, because that is something that required a whole 'nother level of thought, behavior, and caring (or none, if you are certain people who shall not be named here because we all know who they are).

But guess what?  People still had birthdays.  Babies were still born.  Things could still be funny.  You were free to keep loving your family and your life.  Even at the worst of times, being around to experience all of it was better than the alternative.

At the beginning of the year, I choose the word "Attend" as my One Little Word.  Not in the sense of attending a party or a concert or whatever.  In the sense of pay attention, attend to the world and your life.  If anything, the lockdown and the pandemic only helped me with all of this.

When dear friends lost loved ones to Covid-19, I was able to feel their sorrow and do what I could through words, prayers, and actions to help.  It likely didn't help that much, but paying attention to their grief gave me the chance to know that they needed love and friendship more than ever.

Because none of us could really go anywhere, I learned to pay more attention to my everyday surroundings.  I noticed the true sweetness of not just my husband and our pets, and how we all *attended* to each other, but how the world outside, in our garden, or our neighborhood all attended to each other.  The birds sang no matter what, the squirrels chased each other up and down and all around for God knows what reasons.  Geese and sea gulls still flew past, making noise and headed someplace where they felt they needed to go.  Bugs and insects still flew around, to plants, flowers, and into the dirt to do all they things they need to do (even mosquitoes, my archenemies, goddammit!).  I spent more time walking around than ever before, *attending* to more because I wasn't involved in so much else that didn't and shouldn't really matter so much.

I appreciated the nice days when I could get outside for a nice walk.  I despaired of all the rainy days (there were way too many around here, while other places that needed it got none).  I still hated heat and humidity, and still wish(ed) for a decent winter with some snow.  I celebrated my birthday the first weekend of shutdown, and found ways to celebrate everything else as time continued.  

I learned that I disliked certain things and certain people even more than I believed I did.  (I won't go into that here, because a) you probably can guess some things, and b) knowing the others won't change your life for the better.)  I found truth in the feeling I always had that if I could ever retire, I'd be pretty darn content (nice to know, but unlikely to happen anytime, especially anytime soon).  It was frustrating to not be able to just say, "I think I'll go to ____" tomorrow and be able to do it, but it was/is rewarding to know that not only am I not sick from Covid, but that hopefully I didn't contribute to anyone else getting it.  

And don't forget - we voted and got rid of Donald Trump - a true highlight for me!

Don't get me wrong, it will be nice to be able to see my family who are all out-of-town sometime again, or spend a day at the shore in the summer, or even just decide that I'll walk into Center City and meet a friend for lunch.  But I have to be perfectly honest - I'm not sorry that the world slowed down and even if forced, other people had to start "attending."  

To paraphrase one of the songs from the musical "Wicked"

Who can say if I've been changed for the better ... but because this happened ... I have been changed for good.

Congratulate yourself because you made it to today.  Let yourself be sad for the losses, and happy for the good, no matter how small.  Thank whatever/whoever you believe in that 2020 is on its last day, and you are here for it.  Do it today, because when tomorrow comes, this will be the past.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve - drink a toast to this past year, and then look ahead and drink another one to 2021.  We can't know what it will be, but we'll all be there anyway.

28 December 2020

Before I Forget ...

A bit before Christmas, my niece Amanda told me about an after-New Year's offer that I thought might be of interest to some of you.  

A few months ago, Amanda decided that she would give yoga a try, since it was something she could do at home during the pandemic, and did not require tons of special equipment.  She started following the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene to try it out.  And she really enjoyed it.  As she told me, "It's not intimidating, and sometimes her dog interrupts, which is great."  (Can you tell we're related?)

In any case, Adriene is offering a special program to start 2021 with a fresh outlook.  It's free, and sounds like something that even beginners (like me) could do without a ton of difficulty.  So I thought I would share the link where you can get details and sign up, in the event that anyone else wants to give it a try.  

I would love it if I could get going on this, since my flexibility is pretty non-existent, and I also can't do a lot of high-impact exercise due to other issues.  Who knows, maybe I'll be able to keep up with it - or at least manage the 30 days!  (I hope so, I need to get myself back on track with moving around more.)

Please know that I get no compensation or anything for passing along the info, I just thought that since it was a free course, I'd let others in on it.  


Let me know if you decide to try it - we can compare notes as we go along.

Scenes from Christmas Day 2020

Hello there - I hope you are still enjoying your Christmastime.  We are definitely still taking advantage of the season.

Hamlet and Pip were worn out on Christmas Eve night, with all of the preparations finished and it was just time to wait for Santa.

(The Koodle was still eating dinner at this point, but trust me, shortly after joined Hamlet on the couch!)

Our Christmas Day was really nice, and lots of fun.  Everyone seemed very pleased with their gifts, and we had a lot of laughs watching Hamlet and the kitties deal with all of the excitement, wrapping paper, and treats.

The Tim's various "projects" were all finally finished, and we were able to decorate the tree.

Hamlet felt certain he could smell something that seemed an awful lot like treats in his package!

I ended up with two stockings - one from Santa, and one from The Tim with Rudolph on it, and a teddy bear like Mr. Bean's stuffed inside.  

Cream Puff celebrated his 60th birthday with a big red bow, and enjoyed hanging out with us and checking out the tree.

I received Cream Puff for Christmas when I was 4 years old, and we lived at 162 Park Avenue, Teaneck, New Jersey.  He has been my best, most steadfast friend since then, and though both of us are a little bit worse for the wear, I'm glad we got to celebrate this mileston together.  (Fun fact: he was the only one of my toys who ever called my parents by their first names.  I don't know why, and he's never really explained it. 😊)

We ate, and drank, and opened gifts and stockings, listened to Christmas music,  took a few walks with Hamlet, and had a wonderful yummy dinner fixed by The Tim.  Later in the evening, we celebrated with some tea and Christmas cookies.  Not a bad way to end a special day.

I hope all of you had a lovely day as well, whether or not you were celebrating the holiday.  

25 December 2020

Christmas Day 2020


Merry Christmas to you and yours 
from everyone at our house!

24 December 2020

"Until Then, We'll Have to Muddle Through Somehow"

Happy Christmas Eve!  One of my favorite days, filled with joy, anticipation, bustling around (though granted, this year, the "bustling" is at home), and thinking of those you love, both here and otherwise.  I am writing this post not just for myself, but also as the final entry in sprite's 2020 Virtual Advent Tour.

Whenever I hear the Christmas song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," I think of two things: 1) the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis," where the song debuted, and 2) those I love, both here and gone.  I think it is one of the most bittersweet songs, period, whether or not it is Christmastime.

I don't know if you have seen the movie, but one of the main aspects of the plot is that a family has learned that they will be moving from their St. Louis home shortly before the 1904 World's Fair that will be held in St. Louis.  This sends various members of the family into a tailspin for several different reasons.  One of the family members (played by Judy Garland) sings the song to her younger sister (played by Margaret O'Brien).  The part that *always* gets me are these lines:

"Through the years, we all will be together,
If the fates allow.
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow.
So, have yourself a merry little Christmas, now."

THIS.  None of us is guaranteed another Christmas.  *Every* Christmas is, unfortunately, someone's last one.  And that always hurts.  In my family, both of my parents were people who loved this holiday, especially my father.  Through many years of slim finances, questionable living conditions, and uncertain futures, Christmas was still special.  They have not been here to celebrate for a while, but nothing can take my memories away.  

More importantly, what and who is here today, right now, is what is important.  If you are reading this, you are here.  You may be missing someone, but you are here, and this is Christmas Eve.  Even if you are by yourself, you are here and you can love, and feel, and enjoy, whether or not anyone else is around.

People always say, "If I'd only known ... " Well, none of us knows.  We have right now, that is all that is certain.  It's Christmas Eve, maybe not like before, definitely not lilke ever again.  If you are feeling sad, I wish you joy again soon.  If you are feeling lonely, I hope you know you are loved.  If you are thinking it's all ruined because you can't do what you usually do, you are sorely mistaken.  Don't feel sorry for yourself.  Be glad that those you love are doing OK, and that to some extent, it's because of you and your actions.  

Muddle through.  Have a very merry, happy, loving Christmas.  Because in the end, it's your decision how you want this to be, and how you want to remember Christmas 2020.  Make it a memory of love, and one where you may have been inconvenienced, but in the end it was all OK.

That's all we can do.  It's all we should do.  

I hope you can move beyond your own self and your own feelings to enjoy what is happening and what you are doing for those you love.

So have yourself a merry little Christmas, now.

23 December 2020

How to Zip Up Your Christmas Zooms

For most of us - at least those of us in the United States and Canada - there will be one major difference in the way we celebrate our Christmases this year.  Those of us who are paying attention, and wanting to keep our friends and families alive, will be staying home instead of traveling to visit everyone.  As a result, there will be a lot of get-togethers over Zoom and Facetime and whatever other way is out there.

Like a lot of people, my family has been catching up with each other via Zoom for the last few months.  And we realized that during this time, there were certain things that happened or were talked about each time.  So my niece Amanda and I decided that to make things more interesting and more fun, there needed to be a drinking game to accompany our family Zooms.

Now before you start lecturing me about excessive drinking, let me assure you that the drinking part does not require an alcoholic beverage - even a glass of water let's you drink when one of the prompts happens.  During our Thanksgiving Zoom, my 5-year-old great-niece had a glass of chocolate milk, and was one of the most enthusiastic participants!

All that needs to happen is that you mutually decide on a set of things that lead to everyone taking a drink when it is said or when it happens.  For example, here are some of the ones we have used.

Take a drink if/when:

1. Anyone mentions a geographic location (this was inspired by my sister Nancy, who always manages to start multiple sentences with "Here in California ...").

2. Whenever my niece Amanda's husband Pat makes a joke or says something slightly inappropriate and no one reacts at all (he is famous for this).

3.  Every time The Tim repeats something I just said because he wasn't listening in the first place (this alone could lead to you passing out on the floor if you had an alcoholic drink).

4.  Whenever a family member not in the Zoom call is mentioned (both of my sisters tend to mention specific children regularly who NEVER participate).

5.  Whenever someone changes subject without any obvious segue (we are all really good at doing this one).

Trust me, it's really fun.  We end up laughing more than drinking, because it's so ridiculous.  And I love hearing the little kids say, "She said a town - everybody drink!", or even better, "Uncle Tim just said what Aunt Bridget said a minute ago - everybody drink!"  At one point, my sister Mary Ellen had to get up and put her drink on a table because she was laughing so hard she was afraid she would spill her wine.

Granted, a lot of family groups would not find this as hi-larious as all of us do.  But if you think your group of friends or family would get a kick out of this, consider it a gift from my family to you.  

You're welcome.  😉

21 December 2020

This Past Weekend Was Just ... A Lot

Don't get too worried, because 99% of it was a lot of good stuff - it's the 1% of stuff that still has my brain fried.

Let's just get that out of the way.  It's related to behaviors during the virus, a popular topic for all of us that so many of us can still just not understand. 

A couple of weeks ago, Philadelphia again shut down all indoor dining and placed restrictions on outdoor dining - only 4 or fewer people at tables.  Because you know, thanks to those who can't be bothered, and/or who just HAD to travel at Thanksgiving, cases were up.  So Saturday afternoon when Hamlet and I were out for a walk, we passed a neighborhood place that was jam-packed inside with people partying.  Later in the day, when The Tim took Hamlet out, the place across the street from the place I saw was doing the same thing.  JUST. STOP.

Then yesterday I talked to one of my sisters, and as you know, I love my family dearly, and really I don't want anything terrible to happen to any of them, but I truly believe that unless they experience a tragedy, they will not take this as seriously as they should.  So many of them talk a good game, and then do what they want.




Moving on to the good (thank you for hanging in, it felt good to get that off my chest, so to speak).

We finished our tree decorating, and the last touches of decorating for Christmas in our house, which was so much fun!  We are usually finished sooner, but The Tim had one of his quick sudden projects to finish which held things up.  I finished with my cleaning, and everything looks so happy and so festive!  I think it's funny how people are saying they are not putting up any decorations, since "no one can come to see them."  We always decorate, and we are always the only ones who see them - silly me, I thought you did all of it for your own enjoyment ...

I managed to come out of the weekend with a HO (Half-finished Object):

After making a few pairs of slipper socks for The Tim, I decided I needed a pair for myself, so now I have one down, and one to go.  The second slipper sock is underway as of yesterday.  

And how about that project bag?  I love it so much.  I ordered it from the One More Day Foundation, when they had a few bags of several designs that they were selling as a fundraiser.  (I wish I could have bought each design, but of course, buying one was already being extravagant, so I behaved myself.)  I just think the design is so festive and sweet in the best way possible.  And the work of the Foundation is more than admirable, if you ask me.

Finally, let me share Days 13 through 18 of my yarny Advent calendar with you - I think these were some of my favorites so far:

Aren't they purty??  You can't really tell due to my photography skills or lack thereof, but in the upper right and lower middle, the packages included a coffee cup, and a Santa hat charm/progress keeper.  I love these so much, and I have a feeling that I'll wear these on the bracelet enclosed in Day 1 with the others every day during the holidays next year and beyond!  Honestly, I'm feeling a bit sad that after this week, I won't have a little package to open each day.  It's been such a fun thing to do, and no matter what else has been happening on any given day, I've been able to look forward to a surprise.  😀

Today of course is the Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I love this day.  I love the images that go along with it, I love that Winter is officially here, and coziness gets serious.  

Happy Solstice Week and holiday week - let's try our best to make it a good one!

20 December 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent and Approach of the Winter Solstice

Out in the Dark

by Edward Thomas


Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe ;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.
Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned ;
And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together, - near,
Yet far, - and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.
How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

17 December 2020

Alone Can Be Good

Well, we did get some snow yesterday - a really nice amount - but at the end of the day, the dreaded and annoying "wintry mix" moved in for the hours of overnight, so though we have snow on the ground, it's icy, packed snow.  Which is fine for a one-horse open sleigh perhaps, but not much else.  Oh well, it's pretty to look at, and at least other than taking the dog for a walk, I don't have anywhere else to be, at least not today.

I thought I'd write a post for today's Three on Thursday, and my topic is Three Things That Are Good About Just Being Two People At Christmas in This Unprecedented Year.  (And after this year, if I never hear the words "unprecedented year" again, I shall not mind one single tiny bit.)

Anyway, moving along.  I know that tons of people are upset because - if they are being responsible humans and care about others - they have to things differently this year.  No getting together with friends and family, or traveling to see them, no gatherings to exchange and open gifts, etc.  They are on their own, with only their families in the same house with them.  Which for a large part of the population, is just not what Christmas is about.

I am here to tell you (as I have before) that Christmastime is exactly what you make it.  Do I ever wish that we could go back to the years that we traveled home for holidays every year, got to see and catch up with everyone in person, and enjoyed all of the anticipation that went along with it?  Sure.  I enjoy seeing my family and spending time with them.  The Tim does not miss seeing his family, now that his parents have both died.  The siblings are not that close, and so we don't spend much time interacting with them anyway.  

But years ago, we realized that due to job issues for one or both of us, it just wasn't going to happen.  And though it was kinda weird the first year, now we love our very own Christmases, and actually cling to them.  Last month, in the weekend after Thanksgiving, we had a Zoom with my niece Amanda and her husband Pat in Baltimore.  Their original plan was to go to my sister's in WV for turkey day, since everyone would be getting together there this year.  But due to Covid, everyone just stayed put where they were.  Well, Amanda and Pat at least loved it!  As she said, "You know I love them all, but it was nice to enjoy the day and have NO drama!"  😊

And so, let me tell you three things that can make Christmas a wonderful day when there are just the two of you and whatever family members live in your house (in our case, a dog and two cats):

1.  The whole entire day belongs to YOU.  If you want to have candy for breakfast, there's no one to be upset, or no one to say, "But so-and-so is eating candy for breakfast, so why can't I?" which can lead to dirty looks from parents or anyone else around.  Feel like taking a nap in the middle of opening gifts?  Do it, and you can finish when you get up, while the other person does their thing for a while.  Unless you follow a strict daily schedule where every person always has to do a certain thing at a certain time, it's all up to you.

2.  You can still get together with everyone, just virtually, and at a mutually agreed time.  If you are a person who usually sleeps late, there's no requirement to get up at 5 a.m. with the rest of the family and immediately interact while everyone opens gifts together.  Instead, you can say, "Why don't we Zoom/Facetime/whatever at ____ [an agreed time]?"  

3.  Christmas Dinner is EXACTLY what you would like to eat, at the time of day you want to eat it.  I know so many people who complain every year that the one thing they dread is eating Christmas Dinner at 2 p.m., when they are used to dinnertime being at 7 p.m., or having to eat Cousin Mary's cooking because this year it's at her house.  If your Christmas Dinner sucks when there's just two of you, there's only yourselves to blame.

I could think of other things, but you get the gist.  I chose things that I most often hear others complain about.  The important thing to remember is that if you want to get together with everyone, you still can - just differently this year.  If you are a lucky person like I am, whose family enjoys interacting and who have not lost anyone this year, you're still going to be able to "see" them and interact - just not all day, every day.  I promise you will survive, and you might even enjoy it.  How you decide to approach it makes all the difference.

And remember, at a minimum, you may have the same experience as Amanda and Pat - NO DRAMA!!! 😛

14 December 2020

In Which Some Serious Decorating Occurs

Eleven days before Christmas, and we are enjoying ourselves as well as getting things done.  All packages were mailed early last week, and we got our Christmas tree, which currently has the lights on it, but is waiting for the ornaments.  Over the weekend, I did a good clean of the second and third floors, so they would be ready for decorating.  The first floor will get cleaned once all of the boxes go back downstairs which will only happen once every single decoration and ornament has been unpacked and placed.  But since the first floor is the one that takes the longest, I'll only have that one to do and not the whole house waiting for a good clean.  Win-win!

Yesterday I did manage to get all of the non-tree decorations unpacked and not only was that a good feeling, but it meant getting to say hello to old friends I hadn't seen for about a year!  This one always makes me smile:

The Tim's late sister and her husband sent this to us one year, and it has just always amused me.  I don't know about you, but I really enjoy seeing things again every year and remembering who/what/where/when/how they joined our collection.  

I do have to say that as I was unpacking, I couldn't help but think of all of the people who are missing someone this year.  Not because they can't (or shouldn't) travel to see family and friends, but because of the immense loss of life that has happened.  I know that as Christmastime goes along, I feel the loss of my parents more than usual, and I can only imagine how it must feel for those this year, when most of the deaths could have been avoided, or even if not the virus, for people who couldn't visit with loved ones.  It made me cry to think about it, and even angrier that people in charge couldn't be bothered to care.  I am glad we have a vaccine, but there is truly no reason things should still be so bad.  OK, preaching to the choir, so I'll get off my soapbox and move forward.

I also wanted to show you days 7-12 of my yarny Advent calendar:

There's another charm in this group as well, that came with the yellow yarn in the lower right corner - it's a New York charm, in keeping with the "Elf" theme.  These yarns are so pretty and so soft.  I had to laugh, because someone I was following in Instagram who is sharing their Advent calendar from another dyer, said "Wow, this person really seems to love yellows," as the majority of what she has opened is varying shades or combos of yellow.  I looked at mine, and realized that the person I ordered from must be a fan of pink, for the same reasons.  I think every dyer must have certain things they gravitate towards, whether or not they are conscious of it on a regular basis.

Today is a cold and rainy here in Philadelphia, so it's a good day for some baking.  I made sure I had all of the ingredients to make Seven-Layer Cookies, which we both really like.  Of course, there's also the benefit of making the house smell so good, right?  I'm sure we'll do more holiday stuff today and all week, and I - like almost all of my colleagues - are looking forward to our All-Staff meeting on Thursday. There are rumors that we may get some extra days off next week instead of just Christmas, and I really hope that's true.  Because even though people are working remotely anyway, I sincerely doubt much would be accomplished next week!  

That's about as exciting as life is around here.  To be honest, that's fine with me at this point.

Wishes for a good week for all of us!

13 December 2020

Third Sunday of Advent 2020

The Risk of Birth, Christmas 1973
Madeleine L'Engle

There is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a nova lighting the sky to war.
That time runs out and sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
in a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Savior make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth
And by greed and pride the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

11 December 2020

Christmastime Shows We Love For All the Wrong Reasons

Today I'm participating again in the 2020 Virtual Advent Tour over at sprite's blog, and I thought I'd share some Christmastime viewing that are favorites of ours, even if for all the wrong reasons.

Now keep in mind that we LOVE holiday and Christmas shows at our house, and of course watch the "standard" ones such as "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "It's a Wonderful Life," and so on and on.  But there are also those we have come across over the years that are just too good to not watch pretty regularly, not necessarily because they are well-done, but for other reasons.

First up:  "The Spirit of Christmas," with the Mabel Beaton Marionettes - a must-see every single year:

This one is a killer classic - each of us suspects we saw it as a child.  Besides the non-stellar quality of the production (which I'm guessing was not even that stellar when it had been originally broadcast), the marionettes are ... worrisome.  And hilarious.  And ... well, you decide.

Any/all of the big entertainers Christmas specials.  Recently, we watched this particular one from the old Dean Martin show:

Of course, we both watched these with our parents back when they were originally broadcast, but even if not every year, we do go back fairly often to watch them.  When we were kids, there were a lot of variety shows on, and all of them had Christmas specials, with extra guest stars, and they were ... OK?  This is a good example - A-listers (Bob Hope) and others - Dennis Weaver (WTF is he doing there, and WHY is he [attempting] to sing??).  Then of course at the end, the cavalcade of stars helping Dino announce childrens' hospitals that would be receiving toys from charitable organizations.  One of my nieces e-mailed us and said, "WHO in the heck *are* these people?" which makes it even funnier to us!  Plus, let's just say that there's a lot of things that would never ever pass muster today.

And one of our all-time favorites, "Beyond Tomorrow," which we came across one late night on television and just could not stop watching because, well, it's just plain awful in all the best ways and old cornball movie can be.

Oh my.  We even used to have a VHS of this one!

Now, I'm not promising that you will appreciate however much time of your life will be used up should you decide to check out any/all of these, but surely you have some of your own that are your favorites?  

I do have to say, they just don't make 'em like they used to ... 😊

08 December 2020

Perchance to Dream; and, Tiny Needle Tuesday Update

Have you been having weird dreams at times during this pandemic - at least more often than before?  Because I have, and they seem to go in spurts for whatever reason.  Most of them involve the kind of weirdness one might expect, such as animals talking to you, or realizing you are someplace without your mask (I guess that's the pandemic equivalent of realizing you are at school or work in your underwear?).  But the other night I had one that made me laugh, even when I first woke up from it.

I was seated at a long banquet table, with a bunch of other people, and they were all dressed in suits and ties, and other "serious" business apparel.  Also, we were clearly in a dr's waiting room, because other people were sitting in chairs clearly waiting to be called in to their appts.  Well, it turns out that it was a retirement party for Kym (who I happen to know is already retired, and who I have never met in person).

On the plus side (well, for her at least), people were making all kinds of nice speeches about her.  Then suddenly this event was over, and Kym came over to me and said, "Bridget, I know we have only worked together briefly [editorial note: as in NEVER at all, Kym!] but I wanted to give you a special gift from me.  And she handed me one of these:

Now.  To her credit, the card she gave to me at least had all of the buttons on it, not like this one above where some are missing.  But she only gave me one card.  Plus - and I know I'm seeming ungrateful here (because I am, for real) - but these are pretty generic buttons that I likely already have thousands of, for no good reason other than that I just have neglected to ever give them away or toss them.

Really, Kym?  This is the best you could do???

Then she said, "The reason I had the retirement party here is because I have a dr's appt in half an hour, and this way I don't have to do any extra travelling."

At which point I woke up and laughed for about 10 minutes!  

This is almost as weird as the dream I had about two weeks ago, where Hamlet told me (in a James Earl Jones-type voice) that his favorite kind of potatoes were mashed potatoes with gravy.  

I would also like to point out that I had not had any alcoholic beverages in the evenings before either dream.  Maybe I should start??

In news not quite as weird, I made some good progress on my reindeer cross-stitch recently, and I am loving it more every time I get another part stitched!

Look at his little face and red nose!!  💖

This project makes me smile the whole time I'm working on it, I have to say.

OK, that's it for now.  I hope all of you have a good day, and may your dreams be ... oh at this point, I just don't know.

07 December 2020

A Yarny Advent

Months and months and months ago, when we all had jobs and disposable income, I ordered a yarny Advent calendar from Yarnbrary.  I watch the podcast that Emily does with her sister Deborah (Meanwhile at the Castle) from time to time, and Emily announced that this year, her Advent calendar would be based on the movie "Elf," which I must admit is one of my faves.  So, not realizing what was coming, and how much I might wish later I hadn't spent the money, I ordered one.  Then as we all know, the world changed drastically, and to be honest, I completely forgot about the whole thing.

At the end of November, a box arrived, and well, I was really glad I'd spent the money, because what a treat to look forward to opening a package every day in December!  

Day 1 had the colorway named Buddy, and I think it was perfect, since it truly ecapsulated Buddy the Elf to me:

Plus, it included a tiny elf shoe that could be used as a progress keeper, or worn on the enclosed chain as a charm bracelet.  This made me SO excited and happy!

Here are the colorways for Days 1-6, and I am in no way disappointed at all!

I think they are such happy little skeins of yarn, and if you look closely in the lower right corner, there is a little candy cane progress keeper/charm on the yarn, so there's even another goody there!  I haven't started my Advent calendar project yet, but right now, I plan to try and knit the Habitation Throw, since I have always liked the pattern, and have seen some really nice ones made from other Advent calendars.  Once we are all decorated and all of the packages are mailed out, I plan to get started.  

Yes, it would have been nice to have the money I spent earlier in the year, but to be honest, this has given me so much joy, I think I made a good decision when I decided to go for it.

We had a good weekend, getting out some of our Christmas stuff and getting organized.  I got a lot of gifts wrapped and ready to send, and even managed to get most of the cards ready to send in the mail today, so that made me feel excited.  I joined a knitting Zoom yesterday for an hour, which was truly fun, and a nice break from just everything else.

Hamlet started sporting his (well, originally it was Dug's) festive collar, and is thrilled when people pay attention to him as a result!  So you know his holiday season is starting out well!  💘

Years ago, I had a couple of Christmas-themed items I'd bought that our first cat, Molly Bloom would actually wear without much fuss about it.  Most of our cats since then have not been, shall we say, as gracious about it.  But I did manage to find a use for one of them, and now Hamlet is not the only one in our household decked out in festive splendor:

Baby Yoda/Grogu is ready to roll!

06 December 2020

Second Sunday of Advent 2020

advent, by Jacqueline LeSeuer

Lightness touched darkness.

Haunting melodic echoes 

danced off painted sky.

04 December 2020

Friday Funnies - Holiday Grammar

Actually, this would be fine with me, since I have always loved diagramming sentences!  (I still do it sometimes in my head ...)

Have a good weekend!

03 December 2020

It's That Time Again!

For the past few years, I've participated in the Virtual Advent Tour, sponsored by sprite, and it's one of my most favorite things of all about holiday time.  I've also been introduced to so many new blogs, new stories, and new traditions, and I don't know about you but I love when that happens.  (You too can sign up to participate here.)

Today is my turn to write a post, so I thought I'd tell you about the time my mother was thrilled to receive a gift from us that The Tim then had to tell her was actually for *his* mother ...

My mom, much like me (well, I guess I'm much like her actually), loved to open packages.  So it was not unusual for us to give her 4 or 5 things, each wrapped up,  as well as a stocking full of goodies and tiny little wrapped packages.  She was also someone who loved costume jewelry as much as fancy jewelry, so there was always a package of Christmas earrings, or a necklace, etc. - you get the drift.  

The Tim's mom was a different story.  She was first of all, really difficult to buy for because she could be really critical even while thanking you for something.  And she didn't really like a big variety of things.  So this particular year, The Tim saw that one of the department stores near us was having a pre-Christmas sale on their 14K gold jewelry, and he decided to buy his mom a pair of gold hoop earrings.  

When we used to travel home for Christmas, we would have two large bins in the car - one filled with gifts for my family, one filled with gifts for The Tim's family.  He was always in charge of packing the car (still is), because he has a certain way he likes it to be done.  This particular year, we were going to be with my family first, and then travel to his family.  

Christmas morning, we opened gifts, and everyone was having fun, and so excited with everything.  My mother opened a box, and I just happened to look up as she opened it and realized that it was the pair of earrings for my mother-in-law!  She of course, not having a clue about anything, was thrilled with them, and kept saying how pretty and fancy they were.  

Apparently when the car was being packed, one of the bins got bumped, and The Tim didn't notice that a single package had fallen into the other bin.  It was marked, "To Mom from Bridget and Tim," so we didn't notice it either.  Now, if we just shrugged and let my mom keep the earrings, it would mean we did not have a single gift for my mother-in-law!  So The Tim had to gently explain to my mother that a mistake had been made.

Fortunately, she completely understood, and even thought it was funny.  She did comment on how odd she thought it was that we gave her so many other gifts PLUS the fancy earrings, though.  

All's well that ends well, but it's become a Christmas tradition in our family that someone reminds The Tim of it every year.  Even some of the nieces and nephews, who had not even been born when it happened, will say, "Uncle Tim, do you remember when you gave Gram the earrings for your mother and then made her give them back?"

My mother-in-law was never any the wiser.  Let's just say that probably was a good thing.

01 December 2020

December! And Also, Tiny Needle Tuesday!

And just like that, December 1st rolls around!  Whether or not we are ready, it's here.  I for one am happy, since I love this time of year.  I'm not one to wish a year away, like so many people are.  I just like December.  Plus, if you recall, last year around this time soooo many people were saying, "I cannot wait for 2019 to get out of here, bring on 2020!"  Proving that you should be careful what you wish for, no?

Anyway, 24 days until Christmas Day, but it's time to enjoy Christmastime!  And for those of you who do not celebrate, I am not meaning to stuff it down your throat.  I certainly hope that you have a good month, and that if there is a winter holiday that you celebrate, you are looking forward to it as well.  But if you have read this blog for any length of time, you should also not be surprised that I love everything about the holiday season.

Yesterday, I got three of the five things I had on my list for the day accomplished, and they were the three things that to me, were the priorities, so that was a good feeling.  Especially for a Monday.  Even better, though it poured rain for 95% of the day, we managed to get in three walks with Hamlet during times it was not raining, which was beneficial for all of us.

However, what today is really about is Tiny Needle Tuesday, which I have not been able to post about for a bit, because I have been not just in-between projects, but having a hard time deciding what I was in the mood to do next.  But once I realized it was nearly December, I started to poke around, and remembered I had a credit at Stitched Modern due to a package that was damaged in shipping.  So I decided to see what was new (to me at least) there.  I found one that just really spoke to me, and with my credit, I got it for a mere $3.00!

Sunday morning, I got started and it was so much fun to do some cross-stitch again.  This is as far as I made it before stopping (and yes, that is a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer stitchery pouch, thank you for noticing):

I'm sure I could have done most or all of it on Sunday if I'd kept going, but I didn't want to finish it all at once, and just like knitting, I don't like to cross-stitch non-stop, because it makes my hands/wrists/elbows/whatever hurt, and why would I purposely do that??  I'm so happy with it so far, and even though it hasn't been that long between stitchery projects, I forgot how much fun it is to see the image start to look like something. 😊

So, onward with today, which is a day I am at work, so hopefully that will go well, and the work part of the day will pass quickly.  I hope your day turns out to be one that you enjoy.

30 November 2020

Dusted and Done

OK, maybe not dusted because I haven't gotten that done yet, but today is the last day of November, and I managed to post every day for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which pleases me.  I enjoy giving myself small challenges, and it makes me happy when it works, since I am the first to admit that a lot of times I lose steam on my challenges/ambitions after a week or so.

I don't know if it's because of being home most of the time, or if I was just more in the mood for it all this year, but unlike other years when I would have a hard time coming up with topics, or even forget altogether, this year it was less daunting.  I will also admit that two things helped: 1) I would try to think the day before about possible topics, and b) I realized that every day didn't need to be a long, involved post about something specific.  That helped a lot.

Of course, you were the ones stuck reading, so who knows how you must have felt about it ... 😏  In any case, thanks for showing up and even leaving comments, I had fun doing this.

Our long holiday weekend was quiet and really enjoyable.  Hamlet responded well to the medicine and the rest the vet recommended, so we're hoping he is on the road back to being his usual self.  I got my hair cut on Saturday morning, which is always a way to feel better for me.  We had a couple of Zoom get-togethers with family and had a good time laughing together.  I started a new cross-stitch project, which is a fun one and will probably go quickly (I probably could have gotten a lot more finished than I did, but put it away at one point to actually try and do something other than just stitch all day.  Plus, now I have working on it some more to enjoy).  We did a lot of just enjoying the time, and that is always my favorite way to spend any weekend.

Today it is supposed to pour rain all day long (it's already started, but fortunately Hamlet and I got our morning walk in before any drops), so I made sure to keep the things that are definitely inside activities to at least start today.  I want to pay the bills (ugh), wrap a few gifts to have them ready to mail, and clean up some small messes I've made (putting things away that I piled up on a chair, etc.).  I'm also going to pull out the Christmas cards so that I can get going on them this week.  I am determined that this year of all years, I'll send some cards.*  I think even people who may not normally care if they receive them will enjoy it this year, since at least in theory they haven't had as many chances to communicate with others as much.

I'm not sure if you'll hear from me quite as much in December, but as you know if you have read this blog for a while, it is one of my most favorite times, so there's a better than good chance I'll be here more often than not.  

I hope the last day of November is a good one for you, and that we all have something to enjoy this week, when December shows up whether we are ready or not!

*if your lifetime dream is to receive a card from me, feel free to send me your address at: thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet.  I love to send and receive cards!

29 November 2020

First Sunday of Advent 2020

Waiting for the Light : An Advent Poem
by Chris Yokel

Would you wait
several thousand years
for someone to make good
on their promise,

especially if you knew
they had the power
to fulfill it in a moment?

Perhaps, yes,
if you were sitting in the dark,
and your only hope
was the long, slow deliverance
of sunrise.

28 November 2020

Why Am I Busy on a Saturday??

Usually on Saturday I do nothing.  Because, well, even during a pandemic, it's freakin' Saturday and you're not supposetd to work hard, right?  But then there a Saturday when, even if you are not "working" per se, you get a lot done, and then it's 3:00 p.m. and you say to yourself, "Huh?" 

That was me today.  I had a haircut first thing this morning, which did mean I actually got myself in gear earlier than usual.  Usually on Saturday mornings, I'm sitting around in my pjs until at least 9 a.m., and then not even really doing anything the rest of the day.  But when I got home, I decided that I was going to try a new coffee cake recipe I'd found, and I needed nuts for that, so I walked to the market.  Came back, made the recipe, and then while it was baking, washed a load of sheets.  Then I washed the dishes that piled up from breakfast and my baking, folded and put away the sheets, and then decided there was just a bit of stuff that needed put away that was piled in a closet.  And then decided that I was itchy from my haircut and took a shower.  

And just like that - whoosh! - it was 3:00 p.m.!  How did that happen?  And why was I so busy doing useful things on a Saturday???  

Clearly I need to sort out my priorities ...

In other news, Hamlet is feeling better.   Thank you so much for your well wishes for him, all of us appreciate them.  The vet said that he thinks he might have a soft tissue injury in his shoulder.  He gave us the canine equivalent of Tylenol to give him twice a day, and recommended lots of rest.  If he is not doing better by Monday, we are to take him over to the vet's office again for x-rays.  But so far, he seems to be doing a whole lot better.  Of course, getting a pill in some peanut butter twice a day is just fine with him, as is resting a lot (yep, he's our dog for sure!).  But we are glad he seems to be responding so well, both for him and for our credit card bill.

And that's the news from here.  We have a end-of-Thanksgiving weekend Zoom call tomorrow afternoon with my sisters and some of the nephews and nieces, so that should be fun.  And no other specific plans, which is also fine with me. 

You know, especially since I "worked" so hard today.  😜

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

27 November 2020

And It Was Good

Hello, and to those of you in the U.S., I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, however you may have had to adjust your plans.  And for everyone else, I hope you had a lovely day.  

Our Thanksgiving was just wonderful.  We had pumpkin pie for breakfast, which was really yummy.  I love having desserts for breakfast.  I'm sure I wouldn't find it as fun if it was all the time, but I love it when it happens.  Our day was relaxing, and our dinner turned out really well.  Our new water heater was called into active duty, and did a wonderful job.  We watched some shows we had lined up, did some reading, drank some wine, and I even ended the day with a HO (half-finished object - completed before the wine drinking started):

Slothmas Sock #1 even has the ends woven in!

It was a cozy, lovely day, which is what I love best about Thanksgiving.  It's a holiday to just be, and to relax, and enjoy what is.  And of course this year it was bittersweet in so many ways.  I hope the day landed gently for those who needed it.

Today we will be taking Hamlet to the vet if we can get an appt.  I have no idea what happened, but on his walk Wednesday afternoon, he started limping big-time.  We checked and can't see anything in his paw/leg and he doesn't seem to be in searing pain, but he is limping and is definitely uncomfortable.  Poor bug, he is such a good boy, and of course we don't want him to be hurt.  We are hoping it might be just a sprain, but will have to find out what is going on so that hopefully he can get back to his usual self soon.

I was dismayed to read Alison's comment that Black Friday has infiltrated New Zealand.  Ugh.  Why does it seem so often that only the unpleasant things from America become global?  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Black Friday per se - I have often gone out shopping the day after Thanksgiving to shop and had fun.  But I'm a pretty low-key shopper, and for instance, could never be bothered to line up all night for "a deal."  And it annoys me that some of the worst things Americans do are what most of the world sees and is exposed to.  But people annoy me in general, so nothing new there, right?  

No shopping today, though.  I did go out for a few specific things on Wednesday afternoon, and was successful.  Since most of our gifts are knitted and ready to go, we are spending very little this year.  (Well, you can't really spend what you don't have, but you know what I mean.)  I figured I would try to get packages together so we can mail things early if at all possible.  

Other than getting some things wrapped and ready, my plans are to read, knit, and decide what combination of leftovers to have for dinner.  I'm hoping we can get a vet appt for Hamlet early in the day, but we'll adapt the day however necessary.  One nice thing about not having guests or traveling on a holiday long weekend is that the time belongs to no one but you.  That always works for me!

26 November 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

Have a safe and happy day!  If you can read this, you have something to be thankful for, because it means a) you are alive, b) you are well enough to poke around and read things, c) you are likely in your home, with a computer and Internet connection, d) you have some time to yourself, and e) if you couldn't travel to visit friends or family this year, you still managed to survive.

Enjoy your day.  Find something that makes you laugh.  Be kind to someone else, even if it means simply smiling at someone as you pass them on the street (if it's a true smile, your eyes will show it above your mask).  Call a friend or family member and tell them you love them.  Love your pets and take good care of them.  Be glad you are here to do it all, even if it's hard.

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 November 2020

The Tim Strikes Again

If you ever have something you would like to do, especially before a holiday or a big event, or just even because you are finally getting around to doing it, I would suggest not being in our house.  Because whether or not you have expressed your plan/desire/idea, you can be sure that The Tim will somehow manage to create a roadblock.  He is the master.

Just some background here:  The Tim is a good guy.  He is more than willing to pitch in on housework, cooking, cleaning, etc.  He has a certain way that he does things, and he is also famous for making the sudden decision to do something and then doing it.  Oh he may have been talking about doing it for months, but one day you come home from work, or wake up and go downstairs, and suddenly all of the curtains are in the washing machine, or the furniture is piled in the middle of the room so he can start painting, or - well, you get the drift of what I'm saying.

As I have mentioned here, I am still going to work in our building on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he is still laid off, so he is home all day, every day.  Which was especially convenient yesterday, when the plumber came to haul out our old, deceased water heater and install the new one.  It meant that neither of us had to make any special arrangements.

Since we live in a rowhouse, and I knew that the plumber would need to go up and down the steps leading to the basement to move things in and out, I cleared out the "pantry" on Monday.   Our "pantry" consists of some small shelves inside the door to the basement, and some items kept on the steps on the way down.  I knew that The Tim would need to take off the door so that there would be room, so I put everything into some bags and boxes and placed them in a corner of the living room.  I figured that after dinner last night, I would put things back, and then today could do some cleaning up and we would be organized just fine for Thanksgiving.

You've probably heard the saying, "Man plans, God laughs."  Well, He must be rolling on the floor (cloud?) laughing hysterically right now, as far as our house goes.  Because when I came home from work last night, almost every single thing from the basement was piled in the living room (on the furniture as well), and there was a narrow path to walk through the room.

Me: What's going on here, did something else happen in the basement?
The Tim: No, the guy left about two hours ago, the water heater is installed and working.
Me: So why is all this stuff here?
The Tim: I decided I might as well bring it up so I could scrub the basement floor.  Then I figured why not wax the floor in the pantry and the steps going downstairs.  Now we just have to wait until the wax is dry before putting things back.
Me: How long will that be?
The Tim: We should be able to start tomorrow morning.  But then I also want to reorganize things while the pumpkin pies are baking, so it will probably take most of the day.
Me: Oh. I was hoping to clean up around here so things were nice for Thursday.
The Tim: Well, I should be finished by dinnertime, so you could do it tomorrow night.
Me: I usually make the stuffing on Wednesday night, and that takes a while, so I doubt I'll want to stay up later to do that.  
The Tim: You can clean up on Thursday or Friday then, it's no big deal.

And I realize it is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. And I realize that a lot of men couldn't be bothered to do anything like this, AND bake pies.  I get it, I do.

But ... 

well, you probably understand.  Right?

24 November 2020

Tiny Brain Tuesday

Thank you for your kind comments about my newly-completed pair of socks!  I am beyond pleased with them, I have to admit.

New Covid restrictions have gone into effect here in Philadelphia, as I suspect they have in lots of other places.  Though at least at the moment, I will still be going to work in our building on Tuesdays and Thursdays (well, Tuesday only this week).  Since no one else will be around but the security guard, the physical plant guy, and the woman who takes care of the live animals, I'm not overly worried - we are all far apart in the building, and seldom have reason to interact.  And already, I did not see many people on my walk to and from work - this morning there were even fewer. 

Anyway, my brain is feeling tiny today, so you get a post of random things, since I should probably save some of what brain power is there for my work.  


 -- The other day, I came across this t-shirt:

It's available here, if you are interested.

I told The Tim that when I saw this, I felt seen.  He said that the only way it could be better would be if they added "and animals."  He's not wrong.

-- The Koodle has decided that if I am sitting down and using the laptop, he MUST not just sit on my lap, but use his paw to scroll the screen.  I'll be in the middle of something, and suddenly things are wonky, or the window is closed.  I told The Tim that the Koodle uses the touch scroll more than I ever will.  He seems to find it entertaining that he can move the screen around and up and down.  Hilarious for him.  Not so much for me.

-- I spoke to my sister in California this weekend, and she said that they decided to cancel their Thanksgiving plans - or as she put it "cancel Thanksgiving."  I'm relieved even if she is unhappy about it.  My favorite thing is when she said, "What's the point of having a holiday if there are just the two of you?"  Um, Hello?  I was tempted to point out that there are always just the two of us, and we have really fun, wonderful holidays, but a) I know what she meant, and b) it's not worth getting into it, and hear her tell me how that wasn't what she meant, etc.  

-- My brother-in-law in WV (married to my other sister) is apparently quarantining at home since someone in his office has Covid.  So far he has no symptoms and has had two negative tests, which is good news.  I suspect they are not overly conscientious in his office about wearing masks, but I also have a feeling they will be now.

-- Every year for Christmas, I buy little gifts for all of the nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews from the kitties and Hamlet.  They use their "allowance" to buy the things and they can only be under $3.00.  Between Target and Five Below this year, they have now finished their holiday shopping!  Target in particular has some good things in their $1.00+ bins at the front - let's just say that  lot of people are receiving silicone straws in their own carrying case ... ;-)

-- Over the weekend, I cleaned up the planter in front our house, and then swept up leaves in the front and the entryway.  I had six Chewy boxes of leaves and dead plants by the time I was finished, and I didn't even get to the actual garden space yet!  Every year I am reminded that it's a good thing I am not a person with a yard.

-- And yesterday, 2020 continued its magic for us.  You may recall that earlier in the year, we had to replace my laptop, and then also our stove.  Well, not to be outdone, yesterday both the microwave and the water heater gave up the ghost.  We can certainly live for a while without a microwave, but NOT without a water heater.  Fortunately, the plumber is coming today, and said that if nothing to complicated is wrong, he should be able to install a new one today or tomorrow.  Which is good news, except for our credit cards.

-- Lastly, tonight at approximately 10:30 p.m. it will mark 51 years since my father died.  Which is a long time, but some days it feels like it was yesterday.  Frankly, I'm glad that neither of my parents is here to experience this pandemic.  Though I would love to be able at least call them on the phone.  In any case, please raise a glass to my dad on your Thanksgiving, because he was even more of a holiday person than I am!

OK, I'd better get moving.  I hope your day goes well, and that your household appliances behave themselves.  😏